Egypt canceled its zero-tolerance policy for a common type of fungus in wheat imports, promising a return to international standards after three failed tenders.
The world’s largest wheat buyer will allow cargoes containing up to 0.05 percent of ergot, which is considered harmless in trace amounts, the Agriculture Ministry said on Wednesday. Traders boycotted Egypt’s tenders after the country reinstated a ban on the fungus and rejected cargoes.
Egypt is closely watched by the grain market because it buys more wheat than any other country to supply a subsidized bread program. Officials have gone back and forth with regulations over ergot this year, sowing confusion in the market and leading to fewer offers and higher prices at the tenders.
“We will now see another tender from GASC and this should garner a few offers,” Swithun Still, director of Solaris Commodities in Morges, Switzerland, said by e-mail. “Maybe not as many as before as some will remain skeptical that this is a permanent change.”
The government will hire an international company to inspect imported wheat, according to Essam Fayed, Egypt’s minister of agriculture, without naming the firm. That’s a change from the current system that involves sending out a government committee to the country of purchase.
The country has grain stockpiles to last almost five months, according to the Supply Ministry.
Egypt turned away at least two cargoes in the past month, including shipments from Romania and Russia.
“Private importers will also want to buy wheat now that the ergot policy has reversed to 0.05 percent, so we should see much more loadings of wheat from Russia particularly to fill this demand and prices should rise,” said Still.